Rapunzel Weaves . . .

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As a child, I was enthralled by fairy tales. I loved them all, from the grim and scary Grimms to the pasteurized versions from Disney.

I spent a lot of time with this beautiful book.

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I knew that it was gift from my paternal grandmother; the inscription reminds me that I was eight years old when I received it.

The book has many of the stories I loved—Sleeping Beauty, The Valiant Tailor, Red Riding Hood—all illustrated by Tasha Tudor in her captivating style.

And Rapunzel. Oh, I loved Rapunzel, with her sad, lonely life and that beautiful hair. I spent hours with this illustration, absorbing every detail, enjoying the romance of it all.

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Is it any surprise that, as I started a new weaving project and made the long, long warp threads into a chain to prevent them from tangling, all I could think of was Rapunzel?

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And do you remember what Rapunzel did, to try to effect her escape? Her suitor brought her silk thread every time he climbed her braid to visit and . . .

Rapunzel wove. She wove a silken ladder, with hopes to use it to escape.

I won’t weave a ladder but the simple, repetitive act of weaving, of throwing the shuttle and watching the fabric grow, will allow me to escape for a bit, into memory, into nostalgia, into whimsy.

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65 thoughts on “Rapunzel Weaves . . .

  1. I could never work out why she didn’t just chop her plait off, tie it to the bed leg and climb down on her own. Clearly I’ve been into girl-power since an early age!
    So, if not a silken ladder, what is that lovely fibre for?

  2. Q – I loved fairy tales too! Mo would take me to the library and I’d load up on fairy tales. What a wonderful memory you’ve brought back. I had all of the colored book series: The Red Book of Fairy Tales, The Violet Book of Fairy Tales, etc. Beautiful illustrations in your book. And, the chain does look like Rapunzel’s braid.

    • I don’t know about the colored book series! I’ll need to look that up. Fairy tales seem to have fallen out of favor–parents think they’re too dark for kids. I loved those dark, scary stories and I think I turned out okay . . . 😉

      • Q – I Love them!!! Did you know that the Grimm Brothers travelled in Norway and picked up a lot of their folk tales? Also Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt was “born” in the same village my grandfather’s dad. It’s in the blood! LOL!

  3. Your braid of thread looks so soft. Love your friary tale book! Imagination is truly a wonderful thing. I also enjoy the wild stories a young child can tell you, and their expressions are SO wonderful!!

  4. Fairy Tales are awesome! We had all the “unpasteurized” versions, some quite dark! I read somewhere that those dark tales were a way to prepare kids for a messy, cruel world. I think it worked! 😉

    • I read a great book–“The Uses of Enchantment” by Bruno Bettelheim–where he made that exact case, that kids were psychologically strengthened by the dark stories. I makes me kind of sad that today’s parents seem to think the stories are too scary to expose kids to them.

  5. I still do love fairy tales and have a whole shelf full downstairs. From every culture and tradition, they are both fantasy and morals. Your beautiful braid would suit any Rapunzel, I’m sure!

    • I’ve always been intrigued by the folkoric tales, myths, legends–I remember reading a book in grad school that said that a version of the Cinderella story appears in virtually every culture. The stories definitely served purposes for the tellers and hearers, far beyond entertainment.

  6. I didn’t have books as a child, so my girls had many! Beautiful illustrations were a must as I remembered my first impressions of them and how they were like a blow that opened my heart and imagination. I passed on this love of books and my daughter the book expert and collector, still treasures many children’s books for their beautiful illustrations.

    Your photo of book and plaited thread is beautifully evocative xoxo

    • I’m so glad to hear that you gave your daughters the gift of reading and imagination! And, even if you didn’t have many books, you clearly got your imagination and creativity from some other source!

  7. Beautifully written post! I was never fond of fairy tales. Little Red Riding Hood gave me nightmares. Hansel & Gretel wasn’t too far behind.

    • Isn’t that interesting–I loved those stories and the frisson of fear I got from them. Now I read some of them and they strike me as unsettling but I don’t ever remember feeling that way as a child!

  8. Sigh…kindred spirits again: I still have my fairy tale books from my youth. There is a Dutch Gnome book, the first book I ordered by mail, with a little help from my mom, and I waited all excited for two weeks for it to arrive. And than still I have my Grimm and Andersen books…The Ice Queen is my favorite fairy tale and Mother Hulda of course.
    Could favorite fairy tales reveal character traits? Your weaving Rapunzel and My quest travelling girls form Ice Queen and Mother Hulda?

    • I’m quite certain that our favorite stories reveal something about what makes each of us tick! You might like the book “Uses of Enchantment” by Bruno Bettelheim–he makes the case that children basically use fairy tales to work through psychological transitions that they’re facing so, if they ask to hear, say, Red Riding Hood again and again, it means that the story is providing something they need to hear right then–I found it fascinating!

  9. I always liked the darker fairy tales — though I love the illustrations in that book you have. And how great that you’ve held on to it for so long. I’m not familiar with the artist but I can certainly imagine being sucked into the fantasy as a young girl — I love the drawings. Also, excited to see what your weaving project is. =)

    • I liked the darker stories, too, mostly–maybe because my childhood was the opposite of dark and I could enjoy the stories as pure drama! I’m quite certain the new weaving project will appear here before too long!

  10. I read fairy tales long past childhood and love to escape into the “old days.” It’s fascinating to notice how many references there are to weaving and spinning in them. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hi Kerry,
    Fernwood Nursery here……I somehow hit a button that deleted your comment to our post about wild cranberry. Although, now that I’m here visiting ( revisiting) this post of yours, I love these fairy tales. Long before I had kids, a collection of story/picture books were finding their way onto my bookshelves. I have some of my grandmothers very old picture books, love these the most! ( and your post).Now that my kids are older, I have to find youngsters living nearby for an excuse to get them down and to read again. Fortunately, I have lots of young visitors who come to visit. All said, I am really enjoying your blog!
    On to the cranberries……. According to their natural distribution, wild cranberry should be growing in New York. Although, that does not mean that they will be found in every region. The limiting factors could be soil conditions that are not conducive to them growing in a particular area, and many plants were removed and redistributed by glaciers. Here in our area, we find them frequently down on the bog and along some of the ponds. In Down East Maine they are quite prolific and do grow along the roadside, the soil in that area is quite acidic and ” peaty” , which they like. I’d say keep scouting and ask around to see if folks have spotted them somewhere. Are there any boggy areas or ponds close by? I’ll research a bit to see if I can locate an area in New York where they have been found. They are delicious, and it is so fun to find food in our natural habitat. Hope this helps.
    denise

    • Thanks so much, for your kind words about my blog and for taking the time to write so much about the wild cranberries. I need to do some research, I think–there are definitely areas in the Adirondacks that are called bogs but I don’t know if they really are true bogs, in the geologically sense. I’m very intrigued by the cranberries . . . .

  12. I like good storytelling whether it’s in a fairy tale or the kind you write. The miller’s daughter with the task of spinning straw into gold came to mind, and how “spinning a yarn” is an idiom for storytelling.

    • You’re right, good storytelling in any form is compelling. And I’m fascinated with the extent to which spinning and weaving show up in tales and myths and, as you point out, as metaphors in language!

    • I’m always a little surprised at how often these stories pop into my head. And when I look back, I have blog posts referring to the country mouse and the city mouse, Rumplestiltskin, the Ugly Duckling, and the Three Spinning Fairies! I might be a little fixated . . .

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